2010 PAR Excellence Awards

This award was presented to professional audio companies that exhibited a particularly significant new product at the 129th AES Convention.
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On November 8, 2010 at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, the editorial staff of Pro Audio Review announced 25 recipients of the 2010 PAR Excellence Award. This award was presented to professional audio companies that exhibited a particularly significant new product at the 129th AES Convention.

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PAR Excellence Award-winning products are nominated and selected by a panel of audio engineers, professional end-users and PAR contributors with the oversight of PAR’s editorial staff. These products are chosen based on their potential to enhance the quality of an audio professional’s work. Criteria include innovation in design, performance/value ratio, enhanced features and performance improvements over previous versions. All 2010 PAR Excellence Award winners must have been introduced after the October 2009 AES Convention.

AEA KU4 unidirectional ribbon microphone
A contemporary realization of the classic KU3A — RCA’s most expensive ribbon microphone of which only 600 were ever built — AEA’s hand-built KU4 combines “the smooth sound of an RCA 44 with a unidirectional/supercardioid pattern, a wide sweet spot and less proximity bass boost.”

API Channel Strip
The Channel Strip consists of industry-favorite API components: 512c mic preamp, 527 compressor, 550A equalizer and 325 line driver. Each piece can be switched in, or bypassed, and a flip switch allows the compressor to be placed pre or post-EQ. Also included are sidechain input, insert point, multiple metering locations, and API’s 2520 op-amp/AP-2623 output transformer combination.

AEA KU4 Unidirectional Ribbon Microphone
Apogee Symphony I/O
Apogee Symphony I/O
While AVID releases its best hardware yet, the AES buzz at Apogee’s booth was about the previously released Symphony I/O, which offers the historically high grade of Apogee conversion focused on compatibility with Apple Logic and AVID Pro Tools DAWs — specifically for Mac OS, of course.

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Auralex Sustain Bamboo Sound Diffusers
Auralex’s introduction of Sustain marks our industry’s first mass-produced acoustic treatment solution “made from 100 percent Eco-Friendly bamboo.” The new line consists of the WavePrism, WaveLens, QuadraTec, Peak Pyramid and KeyPacs sound-diffuser products.

API Channel Strip
AVID HD Series Hardware
Reviewed in PAR’s November 2010 issue, AVID’s HD Series interfaces — specifically the HD I/O and HD OMNI units — did not surprise senior contributor Russ Long with their “fantastic routing flexibility, monitoring or build quality,” but did surprise with “the quality of their sound. With the release of the new HD Series Interfaces, AVID is on par with the best converters I have heard.”

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AVID Pro Tools 9
AVID was the “talk of the town” after the announcement of Pro Tools 9. Our industry’s most popular DAW is now available as a software-only option, allowing users choice of working with AVID hardware, third-party hardware or absolutely no external hardware at all.

Auralex Sustain Bamboo Sound Diffusers
AVID Pro Tools 9
beyerdynamic RM510 Wireless Ribbon Mic
beyerdynamic RM510 wireless ribbon mic
Beyer’s RM510 dynamic ribbon microphone is built with a “sophisticated sound-channeling technology” that provides its capsule with a cardioid polar pattern; as such, it is “the very first ribbon capsule perfect for use on stage with wireless microphone systems.” It features a very light (barely 3-micrometer-thick) aluminum ribbon with a 5.6 kHz frequency range dip for sibilance reduction.

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DPA Reference Standard Series Modular Microphones
The Reference Standard Series offers unprecedented flexibility for fans of the DPA brand. It’s a four-capsule, three-body system that is completely interchangeable; any of the four capsules can be used with any of the three preamp barrels. Capsules include the MMC4006 Omni, MMC4011 Cardioid, MMC4015 Wide Cardioid, and MMC4017 Shotgun; preamp barrels include the MMP-A “state-of-the-art” preamplifier, MMP-B preamp with low-cut and highboost filters, and MMP-C compact preamp.

AVID HD Series Hardware
Focal SM9 monitoring system
The SM9 is essentially two independent monitoring systems housed within the same cabinet. It is a three-way monitor equipped with a one-inch, pure Beryllium inverted dome tweeter, a 6.5-inch midrange driver, 8-inch bass driver and an 11-inch passive radiator. In “Focus” mode, the SM9 is a two-way monitor using its dome tweeter and the 6.5-inch speaker as a mid-bass drive.

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Focusrite RTAS MixControl Plug-in for AVID Pro Tools 9
Adding to the synergy created by Pro Tools 9, Focusrite’s RTAS MixControl plugin allows Saffire MixControl’s monitoring features within AVID’s ubiquitous DAW. RTAS MixControl is available via free download from the Focusrite website.

DPA Reference Standard Series Modular Microphones
Focal Professional SM9 Monitoring System
Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amp
The m903 is a stereo reference headphone amp, DAC and stereo monitor controller housed in a 1U, half-rack enclosure. The m903 has been designed to provide audio pros in music, post and live sound a great headphone amp as well as stereo mains monitoring, whether from an analog or digital stereo source.

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iZotope Nectar Vocal Suite
Nectar is a new vocal suite plug-in (RTAS/Audio Suite, VST, MAS, AU, and Direct X), essentially an entire toolbox for vocal processing; it includes pitch correction (with both auto and graphical pitch editing controls), breath control, compressors, de-esser, doubler, saturation, EQ, gate, limiter, delay and reverb modules.

Focusrite RTAS MixControl Plug-in for AVID Pro Tools 9
Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amp
Miktek MPA 201 microphone preamplifier
The MPA 201 is a two-channel preamplifier — “based around the 1272 schematic,” says Miktek’s Mike Ketchell — with a variable high-pass filter, great metering and direct inputs. Miktek will begin shipping the MPA 201 in January 2011.

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iZotope Nectar Vocal Suite
Neumann KH 120 Studio Monitor
Millennia Media HV-35 500 Series microphone preamplifier module
Built for API-compatible 500 Series racks, the HV-35 mic preamp offers continuously variable gain control (15-60 dB); front-panel instrument input; DC coupled ribbon mic input (w/ 10 dB gain boost setting); 80 Hz roll-off filter; 48V phantom power; 15 dB pad; and polarity reverse.

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Neumann KH 120 Studio Monitor
Neumann, known for its high-end microphones, has expanded its product portfolio to include high-end solutions for the other end of the audio signal chain: studio monitor systems. The first monitor carrying the Neumann label — the KH 120 — is a small-format studio monitor, designed for use as a nearfield loudspeaker or as a rear loudspeaker in larger, multichannel systems.

Miktek MPA 201 Microphone Preamplifier
Neve 1073 LB 500 Series mono microphone preamplifier module
The 1073 LB 500 offers the sonic characteristics of the original 1073, but is built to reside in an API-compatible 500 Series rack. Other improvements made on the classic include fine trim control; switchable mic input impedance; signal presence LED; front-panel combo XLR/1/4-inch input; and Neve’s Audio Processing Insert design.

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Pulse Technologies EQP-1A3 mastering EQ
PhD electrical engineer Steve L. Jackson, with aural input from mastering engineer Dave Collins, has re-created the components of the original Pultec EQP-1A3 equalizer, leveraging that design into Pulse Techniques’ EQM-1A3, a carefully modified version of the EQP-1A3 specifically for mastering. Jackson’s firm also offers its faithful, painstakingly accurate re-creation of the original EQP-1A3, too. Stay tuned to the pages of PAR for a full review of this intriguing Pulse Techniques hardware.

Millennia Media HV-35 500 Series Mic Preamp Module
Neve 1073 LB 500 Series Mono Mic Preamp Module
sE Voodoo VR1, VR2 Passive, Active Ribbon Mics
Shure Beta 181 Compact Side-Address Condenser Mic
Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5024 Quad Mic Amp
The Class A, 1U 5024 features four channels of mic preamplification, two DI inputs (channels 1 and 2) and Mid-Side decoding (channels 3 and 4 via a M-S switch). Each preamp includes individually selectable phase; mute; phantom power; selectable frequency HPF; and RND’s Silk circuit, “which yields the rich warmth and presence of the renowned classic designs.”

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sE Voodoo passive and active ribbon microphones
VR1 and VR2 ribbon microphones — passive and active models, respectively — offer an “sE only” feature: “the only ribbon mics in the world to perform across 20 Hz – 20 kHz,” other than the company’s Rupert Neve collaboration, the much pricier RNR1 active ribbon. Like all other sE products, the Voodoo ribbons are the brainchildren of company CEO Siwei Zou.

Pulse Techniques EQM-1A3 Mastering EQ
Shure Beta 181 compact side-address condenser microphone
The Beta 181 is a compact side-address condenser microphone built for live and studio use, “the first wired performance microphone from Shure that features interchangeable polar pattern capsules” — cardioid, supercardioid, omnidirectional and bi-directional. These mics are small enough to fit in very tight spaces and are quite lovely to look at, too.

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Slate Digital FG-X Virtual Mastering Processor
Designed for better “low and high punch” during in-the-box mastering projects, the FG-X mastering comp (VST, RTAS, AU on Mac/Windows) and its Intelligent Transient Preservation (ITP) process were conceived by algorithm engineer Fabrice Gabriel in conjunction with Slate Digital’s Steven Slate. The development of FG-X led the duo to research saturation curves finding that “in order to transparently add level to a mix, a dynamic intelligent saturation system would have to be developed.”

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5024 Quad Mic Amp
Slate Digital FG-X Virtual Mastering Processor
Solid State Logic Nucleus DAW Controller and Super Analogue Audio Hub
Nucleus is a uniquely SSL DAW controller: it offers SuperAnalogue circuitry, a four-port USB hub, bundled SSL Duende plug-ins, and HUI/MCU DAW control (compatible with Cubase/Nuendo, Logic, Pro Tools, etc). Key features include SSL microphone preamps, identical to those used on Duality and AWS consoles; two banks of channel controls with touch-sensitive motorized faders; digital scribble strips with assignable V-Pots and much more.

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SoundToys Juice Virtual Analog Input Channel Modeling Plug-In
SoundToys’ Juice is designed to model classic input channels from classic analog mixing consoles; the API 1604, Neve BCM 10, EMI TG 12345 and Altec 1567 were studied during the development of Juice’s sounds. Using additional research that was part of SoundToys’ development of its Decapitator analog saturation modeler, Juice provides “accurate emulations of the magic each of these vintage input channels create,” offers company documentation.

Solid State Logic Nucleus DAW Controller
SoundToys Juice Virtual Analog Input Channel Modeling Plug-In
Telefunken Elektroakustik CU-29 Copperhead
The cardioid CU-29 Copperhead uses a single-membrane version of the largediaphragm capsule used in Telefunken Elektroakustik’s AR-51 and AK-47 MkII microphones and a new proprietary circuit designed with a NOS Telefunken tube and custom output transformer.

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Tonelux 1628 analog mixing console

Pro audio mastermind Paul Wolff has introduced the “first discrete plugand- play console” for his Tonelux brand, the 1628. Including a 192-point TT patchbay and I/O panel standard, the 1628 can be expanded in either 8- or 16-channel sections with ShadowMix automation optional.

Telefunken Elektroakustik CU-29 Copperhead Mic
Tonelux 1628 Analog Mixing Console

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